In my travels consulting people on living a more Sustainable/Green lifestyle, I spend quite a bit of time talking about getting that spouse/mate on board with the cause. Funny how those closest to us are sometimes the furthest away when it comes to getting involved. If that’s how it is in your home/life, here are some tips.
(If you already have Super Mate at home bravo, but keep reading, maybe there’s a chuckle in it for you anyway)
I’m traveling to an Eco-Wellness Conference this weekend, and I’ve been warned; ‘Enjoy the estrogen party’. Yes indeed, there are a lot of ladies involved in sustainability, and it’s time to get the men, the dads, those guys, involved. But how? Well, I’ll assume the conference goes great for everybody, but then the real work starts. Here are some tips.
Alright, you’ve attended ShiftCon and officially have a bee in your bonnet about going organic, getting off GMOs, removing chemicals from your health care products, and becoming more of an activist for all things green and sustainable. Actually, you had the bee in said bonnet before, and now it’s more of a huge killer HORNET, ready to protect the hive, swarm, and attack as needed.
That’s GREAT! Mom (as I will call all the ladies w or w/o kids) has been leading this fight for a long while, and we need more pissed off women out there spreading the word!
Just one problem: That guy at home who you live with, and love (hopefully). You need him. You need him on board with you. You need him to have, and more importantly, believe in, the same mindset. To understand you. To understand why all this is so important to you AND the kids. The killer hornet needs ALL the members of the hive working on the same task, otherwise colony collapse is imminent.
Here are a few tips, and you can start BEFORE you get home (and you needed some more reading material for your boring travel).
- Let The Mouse Play: While you’re away, Dad (as we’ll call this person, but I understand it can be significant other of any or same sex), is having some sweet time off. Whether dad is juggling two toddlers and a puppy while you’re at ShiftCon, or he’s blissfully by himself watching football and pounding down cheeto’s, there’s a bit of mancave in all of us, and dad will be happy to be alone for a bit. That’s not a bad thing. It’s not personal. Maybe there’s more garage time, with no one calling him for dinner. Maybe it’s an extra beer or two without being asked how many is that? Maybe it’s fishing. Maybe it’s reading without having to get up to do anything. Maybe it’s clicker madness for hours in those boxers you wish he’d toss out. Whatever it is, let him be for the weekend. And don’t send task related texts! “Make sure you mow the lawn!” “Don’t forget to feed the fish!” “Don’t leave the place a mess” “Don’t eat hot dogs for breakfast” etc. Try this instead; “Hope you’re having a good day, I’m really glad I can to this conference xo”. Short and sweet. He’s expecting you to call at the end of the day and chew his ear about stuff he doesn’t care about, so DON’T. Be general. Be quick. “This is great, I’m loving it, I have to run to our next session, just checking in, how are YOU?” Are you setting him up? Well, yes (insert evil laugh). But he’s been marketed to for years to buy into a lifestyle, and it’s time for your own marketing plan to kick in.
- Be Happy: If you’re happy, dad is happy. It’s a very simple trick in the male playbook. That’s how nagging or nitpicking is avoided. If I do what she asks me to do I shouldn’t have a problem. Dad may have problems at work, or problems with the little league schedule, or the government, or all of the above and more, so he certainly doesn’t want problems at home. His castle. Yet, he’s willing to make you happy. Remember that! But it’s all a matter of how you present it right? It’s true, you will attract more flies with honey than vinegar. So, if you seem HAPPY/CONTENT with your trip away to ShiftCon, he’s gonna notice.
- Everything In Time: Dad’s probably worrying that when you get home it’s gonna be nothing but tofu for the rest of his life. He’s gonna have to lose weight, read labels, eat dirt, get rid of his truck, and be happy about it. He’s afraid (more on that later). Of course he won’t admit it, and he’s trying to be supportive (kind of), so don’t go there right away. If he’s picking you up at the airport, don’t start in about all the great people you met, and the great speakers, and all your ideas for the NEW YOU while he’s trapped in the car. Don’t shove the free fair trade non-GMO organic hemp snack bar into his mouth while he’s driving; you’re gonna love this! That’s his fear. No. Move slowly. Show him how happy you are. How relaxed. Start with a big KISS. (Sidenote: if giving your mate a big kiss after not seeing them for 3 days is either weird or icky, your problems may be beyond The Green Dad’s help). If you plant a big one on ‘em and say I missed you, instead of reeling off herbicide statistics, dad is gonna think, unconsciously, maybe these conferences are a good thing. On the way home, ask him about his weekend, or his team, or his anything, just so he knows you’re not going to just crush him with Green/Sustainable information (not yet anyway).
- The New You: So far so good, you’ve gotten home. You’ve yet to say the words Gluten or Tofu. You’re laying down a new path, you’re showing off the new you, but you’re also throwing him a curve ball. He wasn’t expecting this new you. He was kind of maybe dreading the woman that was going to come home from this hippie conference. Nope. This lady is happy.
- Charms: So you’ve been away from the significant other for a few days, surrounded by women (mostly, and the Green Dad!). There’s one thing you’ve earned, and one thing he’d certainly enjoy. Sex. Oh my!! Green Dad, you are certainly NOT suggesting I use SEX to get my way! Um. Yes. Yes I am. Again, if this thought is somehow icky, gross, or just not gonna happen, then your problems within the home may be beyond Green Dad. You’ve most likely spent a long weekend talking, texting, blogging, posting, taking pictures, taking notes, networking, hugging, shedding a tear, walking, eating, etc., it’s time for you to STOP all of that, and connect with your GUY. It’s not rocket surgery. You’ve probably done it before. He will be thinking to himself, wow, whatever the heck they did in LA, I’m all for it! There. Perfect. He’s where you want him to be. Then enjoy a nice night’s sleep back in your own bed.
- Next Day: No, you’re not gonna wake up and throw away all his favorite food, as much as you’d like to. This will just make him jump and scream I knew it! I knew you were up to something! No. Now it’s time for the talk. I’ll give you some advice, and most men won’t say the words. Here goes: We’re afraid. What?! Don’t be a sissy Green Dad, I ain’t afraid a nuthin! It’s not the kind of fear we relate to most, but a hidden fear called not being in control. Dad wants to be in charge, be the boss, but more than anything dad wants to protect. Why all the guns? To protect! Why all the big trucks? To protect! Why the alarm systems and surveillance cameras? To protect! Dad feels good with these things, he feels like a good protector. Now, if you tell him THE FOOD is poison, well, he can’t control that, so he either has to AGREE, which will result in losing some control (fear!), or he has to say that’s crazy!, which keeps him in control and happy. Follow? That to me is the biggest challenge facing moms getting dads on board, admitting there are PROBLEMS, and yes, we SHOULD be scared! Play to the protector.
- Protecting The Family: Try these words when you sit down for The Talk: “I had such a great weekend at the conference, I feel really good about all the things I’ve been doing around the house, I’m ready for the next step. I really need you to help protect the family, I can’t do it on my own, will you help me?” If your mate responds hang on a sec, I gotta check my fantasy football scores, you may want to consider finding a new mate. Too harsh? Maybe. But through it all, you’re gearing up for one hell of a fight to keep you and your kids (and the world!) healthy and happy, and you DO need a partner. I think dad will react to PROTECTING the family, he has to, that’s what dad wants to do, and feels a deep down pressure to do. Don’t be afraid to say things like “You’re smart, I need your brains”, or “You’re strong, I need your strength right now”. I LOVE to hear that stuff, and so will he.
- The First Days (or so): Remember baby steps. Remember slow and steady. Remember you’ve been into this for awhile and that guy is gonna need time to adjust. So do your best to NOT put a sign on the fridge that says NO GMOS!! EVER!! Or We WILL lose 25 pounds THIS MONTH!! Don’t scare the pupil on day one. Get some easy tasks going, like recycling and changing light bulbs, build some positive motion. And Remember #5, the Charms. Part of reconnecting with a Greener/More Sustainable lifestyle, is the actual connecting. Connecting with the better food. The better choices. The better relationships. Blogging is one thing, DOING is another, and we can all lead by example. So yes… reconnect sexually with your partner. I bet he’ll be FINE with that part. Positive reinforcement. If you are married, the terms to have and to hold may have been used. That doesn’t mean to have a cookie and hold an iced coffee, it means to, well… #5!! Enjoy each other. Reconnect. You are a team!
- Forward Motion: No matter how far the team goes with Eco-Wellness, keep moving forward. Truth be told, I was on board with a lot of this before my wife, and it could be a lonely place to be, without someone really understanding my hopes, fears, and challenges. Once my wife got on board, we became an indestructible powerhouse of a Green Team. Our relationship has grown because of it, and we’re less stressed about the world at large (#5 again… wink). Many hands make light work. We need these dads, these men, these captains of industry on board with us. We need them to understand, and get their workplaces on board as well. Most men want to do good. Most want to PROTECT! I bet yours does too, we just need him engaged.
Disclaimer: If your mate is already into all this, and you still read this far, thank you!! Pass this along to some ‘greenie’ out there that may need some help getting that guy involved. Check out more of my thoughts at thegreendad.com. I’ve NEVER written such a long blog, and probably shan’t again (promise).
See you at ShiftCon!!